Hopefully all participating were able to finish their quilt top! If not, you have a bonus week to keep on working on it. This week in the Launch Status Check Quilt Along we are talking about prepping your quilt top for quilting and actually quilting it. I couldn't overlook this when the pattern is rated for a competent beginner. In all honesty - my first quilt tops sat finished and waiting to be quilted for a few years because the next steps intimidated me so much. I hope to help other quilters overcome those fears.
FINISHED IS BETTER THAN PERFECT
A lot of what held me back when it came to actually quilting was the drive to make the quilt perfect. It's just crazy to look back and think I expected perfection of myself on something I was just learning to do. It wasn't until I really let go of that expectation and reminded myself that I was learning that I was able to start finishing quilts. I don't quilt all of my quilts myself but I have quilted several now and love the process.
PREPARE THE TOP
You may think when that last seam is pressed that you are finished with the quilt top. But there are two final steps that I highly recommend you take in order to prepare the top for quilting.
First, stay-stitch all the seams around the outside of the quilt. Stay-stitching is a straight seam to hold the seam in place. I use a 1/8" seam allowance. It prevents seams from pulling open as the quilt top is moved around, basted and quilted.
Second, trim and clean away excess threads on the back. This helps prevent stray or loose threads from showing through, especially handy on lighter colors and prevents any little lumps of threads.
The Launch Status Check has some helpful tips on finishing the quilt and links to these posts:
Were you overwhelmed the first time you learned just how many batting options there are? My personal favorites right now are Quilter's Dream 80/20 or Hobbs 80/20 batting. I like how lightweight it is, the loft it gives a quilt and the soft feel of it. Note that each type of batting has a minimum distance between quilting and have different care instructions. If you are just figuring things out, you can go to a local quilt shop and feel and see a lot of options - and hopefully they will have hands on samples for you to touch. If you can get samples of different battings from your shop or from friends that quilt, even better - then you can make test blocks and quilt a few mini quilts to get an idea of what you like. Wash them too so you see what they look and feel like washed.
CHOOSE THE THREAD COLOR
One last tip I have for your quilt is to have fun choosing the thread color for your quilting. My longarm quilter taught me to "audition" threads by pooling them over the quilt top on the various different colored blocks. It helps you to see how the thread will look on the whole top. I tend to avoid white for quilting and sometimes use soft colors that will hide but other times I want the quilting to pop out and choose bright colors, metallics and other fun threads. You can even mix it up and choose a combination of colors.
All the best on your quilting journey. This part of the process takes time so if you don't finish this week - that's OK. Just don't leave it in a closet for years. Finished is better than perfect!